Our Story

A Start-Up for Strategic Solutions

Our firm was founded in 1998 by David La Piana with start-up funding from three major foundations. The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, James Irvine Foundation, and William & Flora Hewlett Foundation sought to create a powerful new resource for collaboration and strategic restructuring in the nonprofit sector, and entrusted David and his small team employees with launching Strategic Solutions, a five-year field-building project that birthed the firm and continues to inform our work today. During these early years, our growing cadre spent many hours gathered at a team member’s dining room table developing and testing tools for nonprofit collaboration, our efforts usually fueled by prodigious amounts of take-out chicken chow mein.

Strategy Formation at Jelly Bean Square

In 2005, La Piana Consulting moved into our first “real” office, a small suite in a building known as Jelly Bean Square because it once served as a warehouse for Jelly Belly. For four years, this office in Emeryville, California housed two newly hired administrative staff and was a home away from home for a growing team of consultants who worked together virtually from the San Francisco Bay Area, Pittsburgh, and points east. During this time, our team expanded along with our menu of consulting services, as we developed and field-tested our unique approach to nonprofit strategy formation, Real-Time Strategic Planning.

Building Our Current Team

We celebrated our 10th anniversary in 2008 with networking receptions in San Francisco, Honolulu, and Washington D.C., and marked the following year by moving to a new location better suited to our client needs as well as to our own family-style staff meetings, providing an anchor for our virtual team that now includes consultants in the Boston, New York, and Charlotte areas. The move also marked an increased focus on the future, as we built our internal infrastructure while simultaneously researching and publishing Convergence, our analysis of how new millennium trends would reshape the social sector. This latest stage of development has made us who we are today: an increasingly diverse team of seasoned consultants and sophisticated operations staff working together to help nonprofits and foundations prepare for and respond to an ever-changing environment.